5104- How much does $200 million quack?

Hello again all, this week I found an article where UC Irvine is being criticized for accepting the seventh largest monetary donation for a public institution. At first glace what are your reactions without any background knowledge? WHY would that be a problem? $200 million is a lot of money. I would like to be given that much. Same as me, but there is a catch, there’s always a catch. It is going to rename the College of Health Sciences to  the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, and one of its new focuses with be on incorporating interdisciplinary integrative health into the curriculumThat’s it, fine. What does “interdisciplinary integrative health” mean exactly? That and the issue of accepting donor dollar is today’s topic.

If you want to be able to follow for the rest of the post, check out the article, Does $200 million quack?

Image result for scrooge mcduck jokeScrooge McDuck may have a point here. This is $200 million being specifically funneled to enhance the Health Science curriculum. Back to the question above though, a quick Google search is always done first. The first hit is the NIH Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (can’t be that bad if the NIH has its own center for it). Ahh, integrative health is another name for alternative medicine. But, a more apt description is the use of non-mainstream medical practices along side with or integrated with traditional medicine. Ok, we can see where the controversy starts. Evidence-based science has been at war with natural, homemade treatments for the last 40 years. What are some of these integrative medicinal practices?

Ten most common complementary health approaches among adults - 2012. Follow the text version link immediately after this image for details.

Ok, some of those don’t sound at all that weird. I know at least half the class has done yoga, even more probably have had a massage, heck Chiropractic manipulation helped me get my back straightened out as good as new. If integrative medicine is not the problem, then what is? Academic freedom. The donor is even quoted saying, “I firmly believe that health and well-being is achieved when conventional medicine is supplemented with evidence-based, complementary and alternative medicine.” And if the gift’s stipulation is that integrative medicine must be the center piece of the education or that the teaching would not be heavily reviewed, then UC Irvine would not have accepted the gift. UC Irvine has already stated that all teaching will be subject to a review committee, but because of the source of the gift, every aspect of the new college will be scrutinized into whether the university is committed to scientific rigor.

Let’s continue the conversation below! Share any comments on this issue at UC Irvine or the broader issue of academic freedom or fundraising.

One thought on “5104- How much does $200 million quack?

  1. Interesting issue… it’s hard to maintain academic freedom and follow the most promising research paths if there is constant pressure from “the hand that feeds you” to focus on a particular thing, like integrative health. I do not have a particular opinion on any one of those practices listed in the NIH bar graph, but I would hope that the popularity of those practices would not be the guiding hand directing the research being performed at UC Irvine.


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